It’s the beginning of the year and as you start the new year, you are probably thinking about the year gone by ‘’2020’’; this may have been a good year for you, however for most businesses this was indeed a challenging year. If you’ve had a tough 2020; I suggest you continue reading.
You’re probably asking yourself a few questions as you begin to plan for the new year;
- How do I ensure I have a better year than what I had in 2020?
- How do I gain more clients?
- How do I keep my business afloat?
- How do I improve my competitiveness?
- How do I maintain or improve my income in a tough economic business environment?
- How do I become even more efficient so that I can make more profit?
These are all critical questions that are probably going through your mind as you prepare for the new year. You can outline your plans for the new year by answering these pertinent questions.
How do I ensure I have a better year than what I had in 2020?
In order for you to know how you can have an even better year than what you had in 2020, you first have to start by reflecting on the year you had. Start off by writing all the things that went well for the business and all the things the business managed to achieve. For instance, perhaps you received really good feedback from your clients regarding your quick turnaround time. These are the things that need to be listed as you outline all the things that went particularly well. You may be asking; how does this contribute to making the new year an even better year. Well, you need to take all the things you did really well and detail what made you achieve those results. This is what you’ll carry over to the new year.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll write down all the things that didn’t go well and the things you had set out to achieve and didn’t do so. When you have written all of this, you will detail what you believe you have learned from this all the things you didn’t do well. Its important to spend time introspecting on the things we didn’t do well, so that we can continue learning and growing our capabilities as a business. This also gives us an opportunity to see what we are leaving behind in 2020 and should not carry over in the new year. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all the importance of financial prudency, having a healthy cash flow, diversifying product and service offering and being agile enough to pivot when the business environment changes. Taking into consideration all the lessons learned from the previous year, put in writing how will you do things differently to ensure that your business stays sustainable.
How do I gain more clients?
This is a question that every entrepreneur is asking particularly during tough economic times. My view is that although people may have less to spend on your products or services; this is the perfect time to create new products or services that speak to the needs of consumers during this particular time.
There is always an opportunity in every tough situation; as an entrepreneur I would suggest you turnaround this tough time and start asking ‘’what new opportunities has this economic climate created in my industry?’’ For example, if you’re running an accounting bookkeeping business and less people are purchasing your service you could repackage your services by providing budget management services that helps clients to contain their costs instead of just offering standard bookkeeping services. There’s really opportunities in every situation, no matter how tough it may seem to be. This time also gives you an opportunity to diversify your service and product offering to speak to the current needs of your market. It may lead to building a new client base or even penetrating the current client base you currently have.
It is also important to not cut your marketing and sales budget during this time as this is the best time to ramp up your marketing initiatives and improve your market presence so that when the economy picks up again, you are already in the presence of your potential clients minds. If your business has slowed down, use up this time to market your services or products and implement your sales strategy.
How do I improve my competitiveness?
To improve your competitiveness, you have to know and understand what your business does really well and to keep improving on that. It is crucial to also communicate this clearly to your market so that they are also aware of it. Constantly understanding the needs of your customers and selling products or services that speak directly to their needs will also improve your business significantly. Every product or service you sell must be driven by the specific needs of your customers. This is a good time to speak to your customers, ask them what they feel you did particularly well and also find out what they believe you can improve on.
As a small business you have an added advantage in comparison to big businesses, as more businesses are looking for agility in their service providers and want to know that they can receive services that speak to their specific needs. Therefore, it places small businesses in an advantageous position in comparison to their corporate counterparts.
How do I maintain or improve my income in a tough economic business environment?
Maintaining income means you need to ensure that you keep the same standard and customer service that you have been providing to your clients. When the customer service is maintained, and clients are happy they are likely to continue doing business with you. This is a result of having good systems and processes in place. A good system to invest in during this time is a Customer Relations Management (CRM) system, that will assist with managing clients and ensuring that they are satisfied with the products and services that have received from your business.
This is definitely a time where every business needs to pay close attention to the systems and processes they have in their business and to ensure that they are implemented consistently so that the customer service constantly maintained and improved.
The use of technology can also improve company productivity which will allow for capacity to sell more products and services. Since most business transactions are conducted online, it’s important to see how your business can meet customer needs using online platforms that can improve the company’s reach. There is an opportunity to reach more customers since more and more consumers are open to buying online.
How do I become even more efficient so that I can make more profit?
In order to improve your profitability, start off by developing your strategy for the new year. Once you know what the focus areas for the year are going to be, write down all the resources (financial and non-financial) you are going to need in order to implement this strategy.
Its important not to cut costs without understanding how that cost relates to you executing your strategy. The costs that should be reduced or even removed are the ones that do not relate to the execution of your strategy in the new year.
When doing this exercise, you will need to look at what costs you really need to incur and which ones you can do without. When operational expenses are driven by strategic objectives, you are likely to maintain efficiency whilst achieving the desired results.
Even though you may have had a tough year, there is an opportunity to make 2021 a great year by having the right strategies in your business. The outcome of every situation really depends on your perception of it. If you want to have a great year, you need to start looking at all the challenges differently, look at them as an opportunity to learn, evolve and reinvent your business.